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Let women also be Pope, Mufti, Kabaka

By Vision Reporter

Added 20th November 2006 03:00 AM

ON May 30, 2006 The New Vision carried a story about election of the Guild President for the Islamic University in Uganda. The story stated that according to the Islamic University Student Union Constitution, a guild president “shall be a male and a practising Muslim.”

ON May 30, 2006 The New Vision carried a story about election of the Guild President for the Islamic University in Uganda. The story stated that according to the Islamic University Student Union Constitution, a guild president “shall be a male and a practising Muslim.”

By Dennis Ocwich

ON May 30, 2006 The New Vision carried a story about election of the Guild President for the Islamic University in Uganda. The story stated that according to the Islamic University Student Union Constitution, a guild president “shall be a male and a practising Muslim.”

I was shocked to learn that female students at IUIU are not permitted to compete with their male counterparts for leadership. I wondered whether the Ministry of Education knows about this. It is unbelievable that in this post-modern era equality for all, we still have outdated practices that keep women under men’s feet.

Another example: In a Q & A interview with New Vision (September 30, 2006), the former Catholic prelate, Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, was asked: “Would you welcome a decision to allow women into priesthood in this era of equality?” He answered: “I would if the Pope allowed it… But the absence of females in priesthood is not inequality.”

I don’t agree with Cardinal Wamala. By not giving women the chance to climb to top leadership in the church, we are denying them opportunity to influence important decisions. We need to let women become Pope, archbishops, bishops, cardinals, priests, vicars, imams, sheikhs, muftis, reverends, etc.

This, besides elevating women to positions of greater influence on decision-making in the church, will psychologically serve to assure the female generation that they are, after all, not an inferior lot among the human race. It’s not enough to have women in the church choir, as wardens or nuns!
It’s also not enough having more girls in schools, more women in the private sector, politics and NGOs. They should be augmented by more women leaders in churches and cultural institutions.

And why not start having women enthroned as Kabaka, Omukama, Kyabazinga, Emorimor, Won Nyaci, Awitong, Tieng Adhola or Rwot Jobi? About five years ago, when the little girl, Omumbejja Katrina Sangalyambogo was born to Kabaka Mutebi and Lady Sylvia, some Baganda did not hide their disappointment. They preferred a male tot because, traditionally, women cannot inherit the father’s throne.

Surprisingly, even highly educated people seem to toe that line; they think only boys must be eligible to succeed their fathers. They also believe that things that are conferred unto society by culture are sacrosanct. An educated person must be able to challenge what is wrong in society.

In hyper gender-sensitive Sweden, for instance, public opinion recently ruled in favour of Princess Victoria Bernadotte becoming heir to her father, King Carl Gustaf. The girl is the first-born among three children in the royal family. Some people argued that a boy, Prince Carl Philip (a younger sibling) becomes the next in line of kingship. But after intense public debate, the majority view ruled that whoever is born first – girl or boy – should have the legitimacy of succession.

Last September, the world was awash with news of Japan’s imperial family having the first male baby in 40 years. The hullabaloo was because a girl is allowed to ascend the royal seat.

Let us, as Uganda, and the world, collectively undo the abominable cultural and religious practices that elbow women to the periphery of cultural and church offices. After all, Article 33 of Uganda’s Constitution stresses equality.

The writer is a freelance journalist and lecturer of Mass Communication, Makerere University

Let women also be Pope, Mufti, Kabaka

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